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Tent design Software

This is a collection of links to tent and tension structure design softwares, this isn't complete and I'm not necessarily recommending any of these. If you have anything to add, please sign up for an account and add a comment.


  • Sailcut - Sailcut CAD is a sail design and plotting software which allows you to design and visualise your own sail and compute the accurate development of all panels in flat sheets.
  • Surface Evolver - The Surface Evolver is 'an interactive program for the study of surfaces shaped by surface tension and other energies'.
  • douglas zongker - polyhedra models - Nothing to do with tents, but some great cut-out and stick-together models of the 13 Archimedean semi-regular polyhedra.
  • ip slicer - A little tool for creating patterns to make the segments you need to assemble a sphere. It does it entirely with image files so you can turn an atlas into a globe etc..
  • NJIT - The New Jersey Institute of Technology have a small fortran package for patterning. it doesn't seem to work, but maybe you'll have more luck than me.
  • puzzles with polyhedra and numbers - Puzzles with polyhedra and numbers. In this site one can print copies of polyhedron puzzles (for non-commercial purposes only) and one can read several mathematical articles on the subject.
  • Vinicius F. Arcaro homepage - Vinicius is a Brazilian engineer developing software for shell and tension structures.
  • Taylors - Some AutoCAD lisp routines for manipulating polyface meshes, slicing and flattening them.

Non Free

  • Formfinder Light - Is an initial design software for membranes, this uses a back-end related to EasyNT .
  • Pepakura Designer - A tool for flattening 3d surfaces to cut out and assemble paper Pepakura models.
  • Soap Skin & Bubble - A sketchup plugin for designing membrane structures.
  • Tess3D - The new Kurvenbau lightweight structure design software Tess3D is under development.
  • Ligno3D - Ligno3D Designer is a CAD program that specialises in complex polyhedral objects. Click a button for 'unwrapped' 2D plans of all faces, with precise dimensions, diagonals and dihedral angles.
  • TouchCAD - TouchCAD 3.0 is a combined 3D modeling and unfolding program focusing on the ability to generate complex 3D shapes and converting them into physically buildable models.
  • tecnun - Not yet available, though it appears to feature: Tensile membranes design stages, from conception to realization. Analysis of prestressed nets and cables. Formfinding of double-curved structures. formfinding software for tensile structures design. Surface fitting for tensile Structures models.
  • MPanel - MPanel incorporates a set of design tools into a user friendly interface to assist tensile fabric designers. MPanel works inside AutoCAD as a floating tool bar, and manipulates your AutoCAD drawing from the initial relaxation of a mesh to the final production panels for you to send to your plotter or cutter.
  • Compad - Tentnology in the states, sell a program called 'Compad' for tent design/patterning.
  • EasyNT - From germany, Technet produce "Easy" 'formfinding, non-linear load analysis and cutting pattern generation for membrane structures'. As well as a cheaper package called Isimem/Cadisi for conceptual design. This software is based on various University work from Stuttgart and Berlin. There is a demo version to download on their site.
  • Patterner for Windows - This is written by me (Bruno), Patterner uses geometrical form-finding to produce surfaces for pattern generation, you can download a demo version from this link.
  • Surface - From New Zealand, Surface is a program that allows you to create your 3D tent membrane shape and then works out the shape of the panels that can be cut out and joined together to form that 3D shape.
  • WinFAB/WinCable - This is a suite of programs, there is a demo download available. Software includes 'WinCable - Geometric non-linear analysis of cablenet roofs. WinFAB - Cable and Membrane Design, form finding, FE analysis and patterning. WinSSDM - Space Structures Design and Manufacturing Program.'
  • Alias Wavefront Maya cloth - Not a tent design product. But interesting fabric type stuff.
  • BirdAir-Lite - This is by Bird-air in the states. Though apparently no-longer for sale.
  • ForTen 32 & TensoCAD - ForTen 32 is a full system for tensile structure design, analysis and pattern making. TensoCAD is a powerful tool for membrane concept design fully compatible with forten. Trial downloads are avaiable at
  • MONSTR-2.2 - MONSTR, The name "MONSTR" is abbreviation of 'soft inflatable structures' (in Russian). 'The program is designed for dynamic and static structural analysis of arbitrary textile shells undergoing distributed, concentrated and body forces.'
  • Rhino - Rhino is a 3d CAD package that's popular amongst people who work with complex curved surfaces
  • Shape Studio - Shape studio is an academic project, I don't know if there is a version generally available.
  • Sofistik - Sofistik sell various engineering analysis software including a combined membrane/steel package.
  • Steel&FabricCad - Steel&FabricCad is based on Window's user interface:dialog-box, toolbars, menus, icon make it very simple to use. Steel&FabricCad is an integrated system with internal database of steel sections,cables connections,parametric steeljoints (about 40), Fabricjoints (About 25).These databases can be edited by user. Steel&FabricCad consists of various modules, which interact each other
  • Touch-3D information page - 3D-modeling software with integrated unfolding/unwrapping features, which an unfold just about anything.
  • TS-Form - Tensys Limited (no web-site) in Bath UK, have TS-Form Surface Form 'generator for pre-stressed membrane structures. A tool for engineers and architects to aid initial design'. I have no idea whether this is for sale. Contact: 7A Northumberland Bldg. Queen Square Bath, BAI 2JB England


bay chlen 2006-03-28 12:08:02

Please tell me how to unfold 3D object to get the exact dimensions of the parts. Im trying to project a tent. I tryed TOUCHCAD, but it is not good for me, and is the only software that does.



eugen moldovean 2006-09-29 13:34:58

soft for patterning

Robert Wehdorn 2007-11-04 12:51:30

Formfinder Light is a design software that is as easy to operate as a sheet of paper and a pencil. For more information please visit:

Peter Debney 2008-02-15 17:24:01

GSA Fabric includes dynamic relaxation form finding for fabrics using soap-film, cable-nets using force-density, and tension/compression only structures using applied forces, as well as non-linear static analysis amongst other options

Johannes Linhard 2008-09-12 08:29:54

Rhino Membrane – Tensile structure conceptual design: Rhino Membrane is an application with one of the most powerful form-finding strategies available today. Using a Fea (Finite Element Analysis) model it is able to relax any mesh into a stressed surface in equilibrium with positive stress fields only. Using sparse matrix strategies it is fast and reliable and any shape from conventional hypar, minimal surfaces and pneumatic cushions can be modeled.

You can download a free demo from

Yelly White 2010-02-18 16:51:37

an online community joining tent and fabric structure software manufacturers from all over the world , you can join it for free.

Eugene Popov 2013-01-30 16:01:24

There is very good software K3-Tent for tensile structures design (see It has free trial version with full functionality. One can model and cut out any complex tensile structure with it very easy

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This document was last modified on 2011-02-27 22:45:44.
Bruno Postle